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Starry Starry Night Unit Study

Starry Night Unit Study

Starry Night Sky

Starry Night Sky

Stars all around the Classroom

From stars in the sky to stars on canvas, this unit study will give you dozens of ideas, resources, hints and tricks to create starry-themed activities for both homeschool families and classrooms.

Learn about Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Starry Night painting technique. Listen to Don McClean's tribute to Van Gogh. Sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and other sky related songs.

Write your own Astronomy stories. Make star themed word walls, pointers for Write the Room activities, Spell the Star Words. Open your eyes and look for the stars....

Van Gogh's Sky

Self Portrait of Vincent van Gogh

Self Portrait of Vincent van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh painted Starry Starry Night

Starry Starry night was painted by Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh looked up at the sky and imagined it the way a slow exposure camera does with long swirling streaks of light.

  • Go outside on a dark summer night.
  • Bring a blanket and a lawn chair
  • Let your eyes adjust to the darkness
  • Watch for falling stars
  • Look for Constellations
  • Take slow exposure pictures

Try drawing or painting what you observed

Starry Starry Night

Starry Starry Night by Van Gogh

1. Look at Van Gogh's painting of Starry Night and describe what you see in the painting and how it makes you feel. Do the stars in Van Gogh's sky have five points? How would you draw stars?

2. Look at the swirls showing the wind. Notice how the short circular brush strokes and all the different shades of blue give the feeling of the wind blowing.

3. Using large black or dark blue construction paper and pastels take turns drawing the blue, white and yellow circular strokes of the wind.

4. Now focus on the buildings. What shapes do you see? Notice that the windows are left blank instead of outlined.

5. Let the children make their own Starry Starry Night drawings.

NOTE: Hairspray works as an inexpensive fixative.

6. Share the drawings and ask the children to explain how they used Van Gogh's techniques. Write their responses on chart paper.

7. WRITING WORKSHOP: Talk about what could be happening in their drawings. Who are the people in the houses? What are they doing? What animals would be awake at that time of night? What might they be doing?

11. Make a list of words the children might need for writing on the board. Allow the children to write about their drawings, helping by adding words to the board as needed.

Drawing a Starry Starry Night - Learning to Draw Like Vincent Van Gogh

Recreating Van Gogh's Starry Starry Night

Children at the San Jose Library in California learned how to create a painting in the style of Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Starry Night.

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This photo was the inspiration for this unit study. Each group of children I have introduced this activity to has thoroughly enjoyed it and been proud of making their own version of a Starry Starry Night.

Create you own Vincent VanGogh Painting

Zelfportret als schilder, Vincent van Gogh (1888)

Zelfportret als schilder, Vincent van Gogh (1888)

Draw like Van Gogh - How to Draw a Starry Starry Night

Drawing Like Vincent Van Gogh - Drawing Starry Starry Night

Drawing Starry Starry Night

Drawing Starry Starry Night

12. Allow the children to share their writing, rewrite, add to their Starry Starry Night stories. Edit them and finally publish their star themed stories with their drawings.

By allowing these books to be borrowed from your classroom library, children may share their stories with parents and families. The Starry Starry Night books can then go home at the end of the year.

Vincent Van Gogh - Speed Drawing Video - Make your own class book.

Set this video up in your classroom theater. Put some drawing paper and pencils in the art center. Put a three ring notebook with page protectors in the writing center. Set up the computer center for writing and editing stories about their drawings.

After watching the video, children draw a picture, write about it, and then put the picture with their writing in page protectors in the three ring notebook.

This notebook is then added to the classroom library to be read during silent reading or to the whole class.

Van Gogh's painting of Starry Starry Night inspires experimentation not only in art but also in writing. Read lots of books about the night sky in fiction as well as non-fiction and then suggest that the children write their own Starry Starry Night story.

Be sure to have the children illustrate their stories and publish them so that they can be put in the classroom library for all to read. The following are some of my children's favorite books about starry nights.

Starry Starry Field Trip - Stars at the Art Museum

Two Teenagers Sit Against a Wall Sketching in the Toledo Museum of Art

Two Teenagers Sit Against a Wall Sketching in the Toledo Museum of Art

Sketching at the Art Museum

Museum Art: Bring along a sketchbook and pencil for each child. As you find paintings with stars look at the number of points. Look at the colors used to paint each star. Look at the placement of the star or stars in relation to the other objects in the painting. Are the stars the focus of the painting or the background.

Sketch some of the stars that you find.

Starry Museum Math: On the back of the paper, keep a tally of the number of stars you found. Talk about the number of paintings in the room with stars verses the number of paintings without stars and express that as a ratio.

Sing and Learn to Read

Don McLean's song Vincent starts out with the words, "Starry, Starry Night". with pictures by Vincent Van Gogh.

Show the children pictures of Vincent Van Gogh's paintings while listening to the song. Can you find stars in both Van Gogh's paintings as well as in the music? With the children, create a poster with the words to Don McLean's song accompanied by paintings by Vincent Van Gogh. Laminate the poster and sing the song often to help children learn to read the words and get a better sense of appreciation for paintings such a Starry Starry Night.

Extension: Have the children draw stars with dry erase markers over the star words in the song.

You might use these to make a chart for shared reading as well as a book and tape for the listening center. This would also make a great Power Point Presentation to be shown in your classroom Theater. The vocabulary seems very high for K-1 but I have found that when exposed to high level vocabulary in a fun and interesting setting children will listen to it repeatedly until meaning comes to them.

Starry, starry night.

Paint your palette blue and gray...

Make a Starry Starry Bulletin Board

Twinkle Star Bulletin Board

Cover the bulletin board with black paper or paint a wall with Black Chalkboard Paint. Then take pictures of your children, cut out their faces, attach them to large Gold Foil Paper stars and post them on the bulletin board. Consider posting them in such a way that they can get rearranged often.

Next, teach the children this variation on the Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star Song:

Twinkle, twinkle little star,

How I wonder where you are,

Up above the world so high,

Like a diamond in the sky.

Twinkle, twinkle little star.

How I wonder where you are!

The teacher says, " I wonder where ________ is?" and hands the star tipped pointer to a child who finds the picture of the mentioned child and points to it.

This game is wonderful for helping children get to know each other's names. It can be used as a greeting for Morning Meeting or by changing the children's pictures to their names can be used for beginning reading activities especially when they are learning capital letters in either print or cursive.

Favorite Star Activity Poll

How do you use famous paintings in your teaching? - Starry Night Inspirations

HelpKidsToRead on November 15, 2013:

I love the way you use so much more than just the basic book to study this. I'm sure your kids love to have you being the teacher. Great lens and some great ideas!

Angela F from Seattle, WA on May 02, 2012:

Lots of fun ways to teach about stars and art!

publicdomain lm on April 16, 2012:

Awesome information. My son loves staring at the stars. Partly because it's a way to get me to let him stay up late, but also because he's fascinated by the vastness of the universe. He also loves 'doing real science' through the crowdsourced projects as

EdmondHoggeJr on April 11, 2012:

A little bit about all the stars and info well done!

WhiteOak50 on April 11, 2012:

You have created a very nice page here. Stars are magical especially when you stand outside at night just stare at them. One of my favorite things to see is a shooting star.

Blackspaniel1 on March 05, 2012:

Good work

Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on February 18, 2012:

I think using famous paintings in your teaching is so important and love how you explain that here.

SnoopyGirl1 on February 17, 2012:

What a wonderful unit study! I can't wait to try these ideas with my kids. I am pinning this on Pinterest!

pyramidsphinx on February 12, 2012:

nice lens

jimmyworldstar on February 05, 2012:

I can't identify the constellations or stars for the life of me. Teaching childrens the constellations is good because some of them can be used like a compass.

krakensquid on February 02, 2012:

Another outstanding lens, great work!

darciefrench lm on December 24, 2011:

May the stars always shine bright for you and yours. Happy holidays and many blessings for the new year.

waldenthreenet on November 29, 2011:

interesting approach by drawing, learn science. Have another. Inspired by "great minds'. Doing one on Galileo Galilei . Kids will be amazed and inspired by this great mind of the past !

Paki Bazar on November 17, 2011:

@anaamhussain: i love this blog you are working really good



Paki Bazar on November 17, 2011:

i love this blog you are working really good



anaamhussain on August 16, 2011:

Wow what a fascinating lens! I loved it. Good work :)

Heather Burns from Wexford, Ireland on August 16, 2011:

Had to come back by and bless one of my fave lenses on Squidoo.:)

nolinel lm on June 22, 2011:

Great informative lens...

top-telescope-eyepieces on May 25, 2011:

Great lens. Starry Night is my favorite Van Gogh painting (probably because I love astronomy). Lenses like this are a great way to get more people interested in both the arts and sciences and to show that they are connected and not totally separate disciplines. Keep up the good work.

Laurel Johnson from Washington KS on May 18, 2011:

Your lenses are always so exceptional. Even though I'm many decades from being a school age child, I learn a lot. I especially loved this one, using art to teach and inspire.

Wedding Mom on April 22, 2011:

A very wonderful lens indeed you have here. I admire Vincent van Gogh painting particularly Stary Night. I've read that he actually painted that picture while he was in a mental asylum in France. He was able to capture such beauty and tranquility despite his situation.

sushilkin lm on April 21, 2011:

Such a nice lens. Thanks for Sharing !!

Violin-Student on March 03, 2011:

Got a chance to see Starry Night a few years back when it traveled with a Met exhibit to Houston. It was one of my favorites when I was young and lived near NYC. A print of the painting hangs in my office. I guess I need to pick up a matching print of Starry Night Over the Rhone, but haven't done so yet. I also enjoy Don McLean's song about Van Gogh, Vincent, often referred to as "Starry Starry Night."

Pardon me...I ramble.

Well, thanks for this pleasant way to start off my day!

-Art Haule

anonymous on February 14, 2011:

i love van gogh. art therapy is for all ages. You can teach kids to express themselves, feelings, emotions in a positive way and it helps them relax and diffuse them when angry. Coloring is great too. blog rolling lenses :)

lasertek lm on January 02, 2011:

This is pretty interesting! There are so many creative ideas you have shared on this lens.

KokoTravel on December 18, 2010:

My grandson is just a year and 'sings' Twinkle Twinkle with his mommy and me... course there are no words, but he knows he is singing with us.

Teaching kids starts at the moment they are conceived... they can absorb far more than we think.

irenemaria from Sweden on December 06, 2010:

My granddaughter sung Twinkle twinkle to me on Skype the other day. van Gogh is unbelievable skilled

anonymous on November 22, 2010:

You are an awesome person! Wish I could have had you for a teacher! Another fabulous lens!

javr from British Columbia, Canada on October 29, 2010:

Orion is a great constellation to teach children. It's very visible, even from most large cities. Of course, it's quite stunning from a very dark countryside location. Good points here!

WriterBuzz on October 03, 2010:

This is a great lens. Thanks for making it. Very informative. I gave you a thumbs up

cause I like your lens.

Evelyn Saenz (author) from Royalton on March 31, 2010:

@makingamark: Vincent Van Gogh's work can inspire children to amazing artistic endeavors.

Katherine Tyrrell from London on March 31, 2010:

What a really excellent lens - so nice to see some high quality content on a lens designed to help with teaching kids - 5* (and that's from a trained teacher with a degree in Education!)

If you think more information about Van Gogh and his paintings might be useful to those using this lens for home schooling and school projects you might like to link to/lensroll my site Vincent Van Gogh - Resources for Art Lovers which has just been awarded a purple star

Evelyn Saenz (author) from Royalton on February 01, 2010:

@eclecticeducati1: Thank you so much for your starry links. I am shooting off into the stars to check out your lenses.

eclecticeducati1 on January 31, 2010:

I love this!!! Two of my favorite subjects- Astronomy and Van Gogh, all mixed in one! :) Blessed by an Angel and I'm lensrolling to both my Van Gogh page and my Astronomy for kids page. Great job!

Evelyn Saenz (author) from Royalton on November 30, 2009:

@AlisonMeacham: Thank you for the SquidAngel Blessing.

AlisonMeacham on November 29, 2009:

As always Evelyn you have written such a brilliant lens with such great resources. Angel Blessings to you

eccles1 on October 28, 2009:

love this lens

Heather Burns from Wexford, Ireland on October 14, 2009:

Blessed by a Squid Angel today!

julieannbrady on August 25, 2009:

OMG! Evelyn my dear, I do think that I am surely seeing stars! I love Starry Starry Night -- it sounds musical. ;)

qlcoach on June 13, 2009:

Well crafted and enjoyable lens. I love the stars. Something mystical about them. I met you on Twitter. Hope you will visit my new lens about emotional healing. Gary Eby, author and therapist.

Heather Burns from Wexford, Ireland on April 25, 2009:

Love this lens. Have a Starry Starry Night print in my office. I wish you had been my kids' teacher. so creative.5*

Donnette Davis from South Africa on April 21, 2009:

What a delightful lens. I have featured it on my new page "universe-for-kids"

frakattack on April 09, 2009:

wow this page is heaps of fun! I love it. I am going to be busy with reading through this lens all night. Telescope Photography

Jimmie Quick from Memphis, TN, USA on April 07, 2009:

another fun theme

dannystaple on January 10, 2009:

I never knew there were more verses to Twinkle Twinkle. I think the activities here are great. I do wander if there is something more visual that could be down with the constellations - to aid learning them... By the way - for pictures of the stars, google for NGC2264 - a truly beautiful nebulae. 5* lens.

Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on August 24, 2008:

I wish I were still teaching; I'd use this lens to teach one of my favorite subjects. Another great, comprehensive resource for teachers everywhere. I love your lenses! (Lensrolling to my Homeschool Planners lens.)

Carol Fisher from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK on August 23, 2008:

Another great lens. Welcome to the Art & Design group.

gods_grace_notes on June 25, 2008:

Another great lens, Evelyn! I always enjoy your work; you are a tremendous resource and valued contributor to all of my groups!

Great job,


: )

Welcome to Connie's Craft-a-Holics Club at Squidoo!

bafiedel on April 26, 2008:

I love that you incorporated the Arts in your lens about the STARS. Don McLean's beautiful tribute to Vincent Van Gogh always makes me teary.

Becca Sanz on April 26, 2008:

Your lens is very informative. Staying healthy is very important. I hope you will support movement to promote Healthy Food on college campuses.

Jenafern on April 23, 2008:

Love this lens! Stars, star-related projects for kids, art & artists - wonderful! 5 stars!

Deborah Swain from Rome, Italy on April 19, 2008:

Another wonderful's another activity for kids! Collecting Used Thematic Postage Stamps!

Connies-Craftaholics-Club on April 02, 2008:

Evelyn, I just love your lenses! You always offer such extensive resources; and fabulous writing! Thanks for providing such great resources for homeschoolers. You are a treasure trove of knowledge! 5 stars & a Big Favorite!


: )

Achim Thiemermann from Austin, Texas on March 23, 2008:

I wanna be a kid again and you must be my teacher, Evelyn! Well, dream on, Chef Keem...actually, this old geezer is learning so much from all of your most interesting lenses, and this lens is another masterpiece. 5 twinkles!

rwoman on March 21, 2008:

Wonderful lens! If you need some inspiration check out my lens.

Ellen Brundige from California on March 21, 2008:

Great lens for little astronomers! My grandma would've approved.

Speaking of grandma, she had an el cheapo way of painting lunar dioramas for the displays in the hall outside her planetarium that you might find useful. She'd mix laundry detergent and water and paint it on black construction paper. It glowed under black light (those purple lights so popular in the sixties). She'd use fluorescent paints to draw Jupiter and other planets. I loved playing with the soap and paints too, making up my own outer space scenes. The soap tends to be a bit thick, so you wind up with a marvellously textured paint!

I still have to have glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling of my bedroom, even in my late 30s. The paint is invisible until you turn the lights out.

Tiddledeewinks LM on March 20, 2008:

Great educational lens. I wish I had Squidoo earlier during homeschooling. What a great educational tool this can be for EVERYONE! 5*'s and I added to my favorites and lensrolled it!

anonymous on March 06, 2008:

WOW. What a brilliant and entertaining lens! Just fabulous. Thanks for your kind comments as well ;)

derekshirlaw on March 03, 2008:

Fantastic! Thanks for checking out my lens. What a great job you've done in creating this lens. A wealth of information, ideas and very inspirational!

Richland on March 02, 2008:

Hi, Evelyn. Thank you for checking out my lens. I love your lens and you have shared a lot of great information. Will definitely lensroll you to my education lens.

applesandkids on February 23, 2008:

I love your lens - you are sharing some really good information! Good Job!

panman on February 17, 2008:




Becca Sanz on February 15, 2008:

Thank you for sending me your Squidcast. Your lenses are always a joy to read. I hope you will support movement to promote Healthy Food on college campuses.

frances lm on January 05, 2008:

Lots of nice ideas. Well done.

Classic LM on January 05, 2008:

Thanks for submitting your great lens to my group Nature and Environment! It deserves 6 stars, but only 5 are available...

frances lm on December 15, 2007:

Nice lens with lots of good ideas

catch-cheating on December 14, 2007:

very interesting lens

poutine on November 07, 2007:

Thanks for the lyrics of "We Three Kings of Orient Are". English being my second language, I really appreciate this.


Pierce This 2 on November 07, 2007:

Nice job. One of my favorite paintings! How to measure a belly button ring size

MeganCasey on October 30, 2007:

who knew it was so easy to paint like van gogh! ;) thanks for the clever lens.

groovyoldlady on October 29, 2007:

An unusual lens. I like it!

Eevee LM on October 25, 2007:

What great ideas! 5 stars

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